MUST introduces ‘Vice-Chancellor Young Engineer Fellowship’ to nurture young innovators

Institute of Industrial Research and Innovation (MIIRI) at the Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST), in collaboration with the Africa Drone and Data Academy (ADDA), has introduced an inaugural ‘Vice-Chancellor Young Engineer Fellowship’ — an award that targets Malawians aged between 12 and 18 years.

A statement from MIIRI says the award is one of the MUST’s flagship educational programmes designed to nurture young innovators in the field of science, technology and innovation (STI), whose awardees will be irrespective of the applicant’s gender identity, religion, socio-economic status, disability or sexual orientation.

It aims to provide opportunity to diverse groups of young people to be part of a progressive university with a philosophy of “doing business in unusual manner”.

Prof. Address Malata, MUST Vice-Chancellor

The 2022 fellowship will target young engineers, who will attend a five-day Drone and Data Academy where they will learn how to construct and operate drones for addressing development needs.

Participation fee is K450,000 covering all logistical support, and access to teaching and learning materials and 5 scholarships from the Vice-Chancellor’s office will be granted to young people from economically disadvantaged groups, minorities and those from traditionally under-represented backgrounds.

Other benefits will include working lunch with the Vice-Chancellor; annual affiliation to Young Engineer Triad (MUST student/young engineer/lecturer); being a member of the Young Engineer Hosting Family; and annual membership to the MUST Technology and Innovation Garage.

Those interested should complete the form available on and for more information, interested applicants are encouraged to contact Ruth Mtuwa on +265 882 066 349 or through [email protected]

Interested partners are also encouraged to contact the Director of the MUST Institute of Industrial Research and Innovation through [email protected]

The University, says the main goal of the initiative is to inspire young people to advance their interests in science, technology, engineering and innovation — being one of the drivers of the Industrialization Pillar of the MW2063.

“In particular, it will allow their natural given talent to be a springboard for attainment of their vision,” says the statement from MUST. “The programming should aim at getting them lead the process by telling us more whilst we provide the required mentorship and coaching.

Dr. David Mkwambisi, Director of MIIRI

“These have their own ideas and we want to start working with them from this stage until their innovative idea is realised. The second goal is to show them that MUST is the right place for advancing their innovations.

“This should be achieved through practical oriented training. Let us avoid a session where they will take notes or create a classroom type of environment. These will be achieved through sessions at ADDA and at the Design Studio.

“The final objective is the role of social capital in achieving STEM, this is where we are involving parents, engineer family host and students.”

Part I of the initiative is ‘Understanding the Young Engineer’ by engaging them to understand them on what attributes they have, when do they engage in issues of engineering, what motivates them, where do they get the ideas and how do they work with others, amongst others.

“The outcome here is a clear process of mapping the environment of a young engineer and we may compare this process between age and gender. This can be achieved through casual talks of the young engineers with experts at MUST — one on one or in groups.

Part II is the Drone Science, which is the hub of the inaugural Fellowship, saying: “We need to design easy-to-learn sessions to provide that interest. Maybe start with a bit of history, video, why drones, then construction of drones.

“We allow the students to construct their own drone which they shall showcase during graduation. This is 100% technical or practical session to be done every day in specific hours.

The Design Studio is Part III where the students’ ideas would be transformed into a 3D printer image, through which they would learn steps in coming up with the images and also inspire them how to advance technologies/innovation. The lab work is also across the four days.

Part IV — Student Host Engagement — is identify hosting students from MUST especially those pursuing engineering-related programmes and are young, during which they shall be discussing their journey, show them the hostels, and have a contribution to their idea.

“This can be 3-hour session or half a day. We want these young engineers to experience student life; we need to identify these students in advance and then they should be part of the co-creation process of this session. These students — to be called ‘Young Engineers Student Fellows’ — will remain our ambassadors.”

On Part V, Young Engineer Triad, the programmes management would identify lecturers with engineering background being preferred “but anyone else is eligible in addition to the Young Engineer Student Fellows.

“This is where the lecturer shall mentor the student, who in turn shall mentor the young engineer. The process should be designed for at least 6 months or one year. We also need to identify these lecturers and proceed with a co-creation process.

Part VI, Engineer Host Family component “is aiming at getting partners or friends of MUST to support community engagement interventions in which they need to be identified much areas and also be engaged in the co-creation processes” — in collaboration with Engineer Association of Malawi.

The Working Lunch as Part VII is where the young people would have the opportunity to engage the Vice-Chancellor, to learn her personal life journey and be allowed to ask questions.

“Parents shall also be allowed to be part of this session and if possible one female lecturer engineer can also share her story.

The media, that plays a vital role in the development of the country in all spheres of life, shall also be engaged throughout the process.

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